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Data Futures: The programme

Activity update

Following the announcement that Data Futures will not be going live in 2019/20, a revised direction for the programme has been approved by the Data Futures Programme Board.

After analysis of feedback and programme activity HESA has recommended a move from continuous data collection to three discrete data collections a year.

On 10 June 2019, the Data Futures Programme Board reviewed the plan for Data Futures, and made decisions relating to the scope and delivery timeframe for Data Futures. Consequently, it was agreed that in-year collection, i.e. Data Futures will not be going live in 2020/21. 

The key factors behind this decision are:

  • Changes to the Data Model, collection specification and relevant areas of the HESA Data Platform (HDP) arising from the move to discrete collections, and sector feedback regarding opportunities to simplify the Data Model.
  • Challenges experienced with the current approach to the development of quality rules, resulting in a decision to change the programming language – this requires elements of the HESA Data Platform to be redesigned but will deliver a more sustainable platform for the future.
  • The scale of the work to develop the quality rule base that has evolved over 20+ years on a new platform, with a different collection approach to the current annual cycle.

Discrete collection

The move to discrete collection requires a change to the event-driven data required in the original continuous collection approach. A discrete collection means data returned reflects the position at the end of the reference period. To accommodate this, the system architecture, quality assurance and data flows are under review as well as the data model. 

We are considering three core dimensions as part of discrete collection:

  • Nature of the data: returned to reflect the status at a point in time, in this case the end of the reference period.
  • Nature of the collection: in a discrete approach, each collection operates independently from any others.
  • Scope of data: each dissemination requires the full coverage of the record to be returned, i.e. for each student all that is known about them at the time and relevant to the reference period is supplied.

The agreed move to discrete collection requires a fundamental review of the data model and the associated collection specification. HESA continues to work gathering requirements with statutory colleagues, advisory groups and HE sector colleagues to determine detailed requirements for the data collection system, the new student data model, what discrete collection means in detail and to determine our implementation approach. We are also looking at the technical solution and taking the opportunity to strengthen the design of the system, especially where it relates to data quality.

Next steps 

We appreciate the work ahead is significant, not only for HESA but for the sector. Much of the work undertaken to date continues to feed into our updated approach and we will continue to listen and make use of the expertise and in-depth knowledge available to us across the sector as we proceed with the agreed discrete collection approach. 

Programme engagement and governance

To improve responsiveness and support robust decision making across the programme, we have added an additional layer within our governance structure.

Data Futures: programme engagement and governance

Get involved

  • The Data Futures programme will present multiple opportunities to get involved, provide feedback, and ask questions.
  • If you want to get in contact, please email.

Join the Data Futures JISCMail group for updates and announcements

Join the Data Futures AP JIscMail group for updates and announcements